Life...Fun and Kentucky Real Estate


Why A Realtor Might Turn Down Listing Your Home. It's Nothing Personal...Just Good Business.

old house

Why A Realtor Might Turn Down Listing Your Home. It's Nothing Personal...Just Good Business.

A few days ago I was asked by another Realtor to take a look at a property out of his MLS area to see if I might be interested in listing it as a referral.

The property was actually a county outside my usual area but, if it were marketable I would be interested. You never know till you go look and see what is around it.

There are some areas surrounding Lexington and Richmond that just take extra time to sell. Even in good times they just take a long time to sell.

I toured the property, but decided it would just not be the right fit for my stable of listings.

(The house picture in my post is not the subject property...just an example)

Factors influencing my decision:

Too far away(in another county I'm not famular with...never sold a property there).

The property backed up to a landfill(the tenant said the smell in the winter was pretty strong, not too many people would buy a farm next to a landfill).

My car would not make it up the steep gravel driveway(we drove up in a front-wheel drive truck and it had trouble getting up the hill).

House in dire need of repair and not freshly staged(Too many cosmetic repairs needed. A home inspector would find mountains of things to kill a deal with this one).

Temporary fencing for horses on 15 acres(fencing a farm is expensive for a new owner).

My cell phone wouldn't work there out in the country(what if I had an emergency?).



I thought it over carefully while I toured it. Since it would be a referral, if I sold it, I have to pay a referral fee to the referring Realtor. This takes a bite out of my commission if it sells and we make it to closing.

This listing might take years to sell and eat up advertising and gas money. I decided it just might drain my budget right now. We are in a strange economic time.

Now, it's not unusual for me to turn down a listing. It's just the market we are in. Realtors work on a commission basis. If we can't sell your home we don't make any money. It's that simple.

To list a home takes advertising money, gas and time. Maybe some Realtors have a different situation, but I pay for all my advertising. Going into winter, the budget gets tighter.

Gas is more expensive I might not want to list a home that will require a lot of mileage to and from.

Time...I have plenty of that, but a Realtor's time is just as valuable as an attorneys, doctors or anyone else that gets paid by the hour for services. I make time for what is important and my clients.

You can bet if I have to spend my money to advertise in a slow market, before a holiday season and winter... your house should be in tip top shape and marketable. It needs to be squeaky clean, polished, freshly painted and looking like a new penny.

Buyers are walking in and walking out of listings right now. Nice houses are getting showings...but no offers. It's tough for sellers and Realtors.

I'm all for getting a house sold fast. I have lots of ideas on how to get a home ready to sell.

There are plenty of houses selling now in Central Kentucky. It could be yours. All it takes is a little extra effort in getting it ready. Now before Thanksgiving would be a good time to get it sold.

Don't wait another minute waiting to see what the market is doing or how the presidential election will turn out. You can't afford to sit and wait.




Lizette Fitzpatrick - Baby Boomer Real Estate Relocation Specialist with Prudential Don Foster in Richmond, Kentucky.

Rated number #1 featured Kentucky Realtor on and Publisher/Author for the only Central Kentucky email newsletter on local real estate listings and sold properties, Kentucky relocation, local events, homeowner information and fun! For more information on Lizette, Kentucky Horse Farms, Prudential Don Foster, Madison County, Fayette County, Richmond or Lexington, Kentucky click on

See for yourself what Lizette's extraordinary clients have to say about their Kentucky real estate experience. Copyright © 2008 By Lizette Fitzpatrick, All Rights Reserved..*Why A Realtor Might Turn Down Listing Your Home. It's Nothing Personal...Just Good Business.*  


Comment balloon 36 commentsLizette Fitzpatrick • September 21 2008 01:35PM


Sounds like any number of reasons why I wouldn't take the listing.

Posted by Gene Allen, Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate (Fathom Realty) over 10 years ago

Lizette, by the looks of the house I would say when all else fails go with what makes sense:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 10 years ago

Lizette, great post.  Too many agents will take any listing, even if it is dis-service to the buyer, seller, attorny, etc... You made a good call and your time is better spent elsewhere!

Posted by Cristal Drake, Realtor - Fullerton Real Estate (Prudential California Realty) over 10 years ago

Gene - I hate turning a listing down but I am watching what I spend and be intelligent about what I can offer a seller. Time to be realistic.

Charles - Good point! Buyers are picky right now and a house needing numerous repairs are not what they are looking to buy.

Cristal - I think so too. When I was a fresh green agent, I might not have known what a financial drain it might be to my bottom line. I'm older and wiser now.


Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 10 years ago

Wow it sounds like a real winner to me, and not that I am against referrals (I accept and work on a number of them), but to take one with all those problems and then take xx% off for a referral, you are right-- not good business sense.

Posted by Michael Sahlman, e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes ( - Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

Lizette--I too have had to turn down listings that just did not make financial sense to me...A listing that is too far away or priced to stay on the market for a long time is not something I can spend time on either. Bottomline, you know your business best. Good for you to understand that you don't need to take every listing.

Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) over 10 years ago

Liz, good call... and congratulations on the little gold star. Time is money is the same thing so you evaluated the cost and made a business decision.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 10 years ago

You maid the right choice to not list the home. Like my mentor says listen to your gut feeling. I recently went on a listing presentation and didn't take it for different reasons. Work smart, not hard

Posted by Nelya Calev (John L Scott) over 10 years ago

Hi Lizette... Great post and good explanation for consumers on how real estate is more than just an HGTV show, but actually a business to those of us for whom it is a profession!  Thanks for compiling and sharing this.

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 10 years ago

Great post. I remmeber the first time I walked away from a listing and it felt good.

Posted by Irena (Esphir) Popilevsky, NYS Licensed Broker/Owner . Short Sale Specialist ( over 10 years ago

This happens all the time and is a win win for everyone.  I say to a seller or buyer that I would love to work with you but because this is not my area of expertise I would be of disservice to you; but, I do have a fantastic agent in this area that will be a great choice for you.  Can I get her/his number for you?

Area being defined as location or type of real estate.  Get a referral and off you go.  This is merely being smart.

Posted by TIM MONCRIEF, Over 2,000 homes sold….. (Tim Monciref) over 10 years ago

You are wise to turn down a listing that is out of the area you normally work. Often it is hard to find an office to refer to in very rural areas. Many there are not Realtors and/or are not receptive to paying a referral fee for such business, because they don't view it necessary.  This is from first hand knowledge, as I am in such a rural market.  Also country property is a niche all to itself with many things a more urban agent most likely won't know, such as ag programs, forest programs, etc. The further away the more marketing and travel required, best for that agent to find someone nearby and it was wise of you to pass it up.  

Posted by Mary Strang over 10 years ago

Hi Lizette, Great Post, I totally agree with your points. When I take a listing I am spending a few thousand dollars of my own Marketing Money, not counting all the additional points you mention such as Gas, Time, Cell Bills etc. If the Seller is realistic and wants to price it below Market to get intrest then I would referr it out otherwise it is a wast of your time and money.

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) over 10 years ago

Although it's sometimes difficult to walk away from a listing I think it's happening more and more, and overall this will be a great help to us all.  If sellers find that a couple of Realtors are willing to walk away from their listings, they might get more realistic about the pricing and condition of their properties.  In the long run, some Realtor might get a better listing out of it! 

Today it's not necessarily about taking a listing, it's about taking a listing that will sell!

Posted by Charlotte Koch, Realtor-Strongsville,Ohio (Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Southwest) over 10 years ago

Michael - I like referrals too! I don't believe I have ever turned one down till this one.

Teri - It's taken me a long time to get to this point. I value my time more. Like working smarter...not harder.

Missy - Thanks for stopping by. I was surprised by the feature. 

John -It's good when you feel confident enough to say no to a listing that won't be worth the effort. It doen't happen often.

Steve- Sometimes it does seem like an HGTV show. Maybe we should apply for a job with them.

Irena - It does feel good knowing you have done the right thing for yourself.

Tim - It's great when you can refer one out and later pennies from heaven come in when you least expect them.

Mary - We even discussed having one of their local agents list this one but knew there wasn't an agent that had the ad budget to do more than stick a sign in the yard and MLS. It's a poor rural area.

Endre - I'm ll for making the most money I can these days too.



Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 10 years ago

Char & Jim - I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for stopping by my post!

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 10 years ago

Those referral fees do take a big bite out of commissions.  I wish they could be lowered.  Some companies now ask for 35% or more for referral fees.  I can remember when 20% was standard and that was plenty. 

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 10 years ago

Good for you!  Many people don't take into consideration the value of our time, especially for a listing that needs that much help. 

Posted by Connie Betz, Top Omaha Realtor - Omaha Homes for Sale (Keller Williams Greater Omaha) over 10 years ago

You have some valid points as to why you shouldn't accept any listing.  The committment is already mandatory but if it is not in your servicing area, you really should think twice.

Posted by Latonia Parks, Certified Military Relocation Expert (Top Bragg Realty, Fayetteville NC, Home of the 82d ABN DIV) over 10 years ago

Barbara - They really do take a big bite out of the comission! Sometimnes after one has been so difficult or costly, I hate seeing the referral fee go out.

Connie - It doesn't happen often for me. I usually take them.

Latonia - I kew it would be a stretch if I were to accept it. There were just too many factors that didn't add up.

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 10 years ago

It's unfortunate but sellers don't understand why top agents walk away in some situations.  If Sellers aren't prepared to get their home ready and truly understand the market it's not worth our time, marketing $$s, and effort to sell a home.

Posted by Tracy Santrock, Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge (Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. ) over 10 years ago

Lizette - you bring up some excellent points. Clearly we have business decisions to make and when the numbers don't work - it makes no sense to list for the sake of listing. We list to sell homes - not simply list them! My biggest reason for not taking a listing is IF the seller wants to list high and see what happens. I generally convince a well-intending seller that is not a good strategy. As I stated in a comment I made on another post this morning "I recently told a seller that I would not take a listing at the price they wanted to list - and we listed $60K below what their pie in the sky price was."


Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 10 years ago

Hi Lizette,

I too would have walked away, I seem do this quite often in this market. Good move my friend! :)

Posted by Suzanne Sands, Somerset MA Real Estate (Pavao Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Think that we all have to walk away from time to time. If the home is not going to sell in your opinion, then there is little point in wasting your and the sellers time.

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 10 years ago

I might have taken the listing, but possibly not at a price attractive to the seller...  And I would HAVE to inform the seller that another agent might see it differently that I. 

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 10 years ago

Great post and great reminders!

Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) over 10 years ago

Tracy - Amen to that! It's a whole lot of effort to sell one.

Kathleen - I don't blame you. We can't afford to list those overpriced homes.

Suzanne - In my early days I wouldn't have been able to walk away. I just wanted any listing. Boyt have times changed.

Bob & Carolin - Lifes too short to waste everyone's time.

Lane - that's good too. Some might list at a lower price.

Emily - Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!





Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 10 years ago

Seems like a great decison to me. I have actually turned down more listings than I have taken this year and not noticed a drop at all from what I thought. I have decided to just say no to over priced listings period. I refer them and then get them when the seller becomes more realistic.

Posted by Charles Stallions, 800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services ) over 10 years ago

Deciding whether or not to take a listing is just like any other job interview.  It has to work for both parties and agents should not just accept any "job".  You list a lot of great reasons why you shouldn't and didn't take the listing, others could be that the owner is unwilling to be realistic about pricing within the market, owner is unwilling to grant an allowance for obvious needed repairs and deferred maintenance, etc...  Just taking any and all listings isn't going to do an agent or the owner any good.  Be honest.

Posted by Real Estate Virtual Assistant & Agent, Proud to Serve Your Real Estate Needs (Christine Wade) over 10 years ago

A good list of reasons why a house would not be saleable or a good candidate for a listing.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 10 years ago

Great post!  I'm amazed how many listings I've had to turn down in the last few months.  A few were conditions but most were because the market value does not equate to what the owner has to get to break even.

Posted by Michael Johnson, Metro Charleston SC (Carolina One Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Sounds to me like you made a wise decision. From seeing the increase of inventory that won't sell in my area, I wish more would follow your lead. Good for you.

Posted by LS Rogers Realty (LS Rogers Realty) over 10 years ago

As much work as that sounds, I'm not even sure listing it substantialy below market value and selling it in 3 days would be worth it - the countless headaches that could arise and draw you away from more profitable work.  I applaud your thinking. 

Posted by Stephen Kappre, Helping You Home (KW Hometown) over 10 years ago

I have finally started taking a better look at my "stable" of listings - sometimes it just is not the right mix

Posted by Thesa Chambers, Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon (Fred Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago


Your post very clearly gets the point across. Some homes are just not desirable for a listing agent. Who needs something hanging around that will not sell

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

In the time of economic woes and gas crisis, we cannot afford to take listings that will not sell! It is nice to finally reach that pint in your career. Keep on selling!

Posted by Denise Williams (Benchmark Realty) over 10 years ago

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